DOD CIO to implement new electromagnetic spectrum strategy

The CIO will take over the responsibility from the vice chair of the Join Chiefs of Staff.
cellular network antenna base station on the telecommunication mast

The job of implementing a strategy to modernize how the Department of Defense uses electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) will now fall to the office of the Chief Information Officer, the DOD announced Thursday.

Implementation and creation of the current strategy has been overseen by the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who leads an EMSs cross-functional team, but that authority will transfer to the CIO in the fall. The change was triggered by a new implementation plan for the EMS Superiority Strategy signed by the secretary of defense in July but announced Thursday.

“The enterprise approach in the [implementation plan] reaches beyond the traditional ‘silos’ and drives the Department to act in a more integrated fashion, mirroring the shared nature of the EMS,” Acting DOD CIO John Sherman said in a statement.

The change was ordered as the CIO already oversees EMS activities, which include a range of operations from radio communications and anti jamming. The implementation plan calls on the CIO’s office to oversee creating and managing an EMS workforce and ensuring the bureaucratic processes properly resource EMS tasks.


The strategy was born out of a Government Accountability Office report that found insufficient leadership on how the DOD handles EMS. For the past two decades the military had little need to focus on EMS as it has been fighting insurgencies with limited tech capabilities, but as it prepares for a possible war with high-tech nations like Russia or China, the services have increased their spectrum activities. The Air Force recently stood up its first EMS wing, and other services have established similar groups to focus on activities.

The military plans to rely even more heavily on spectrum communications systems to facilitate new strategies like Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). That is the new framework where the military wants to be able to transmit data between all platforms in battle, creating a military internet-of-things. Transmitting data will require ample access to the spectrum, including the use of new tech like 5G that use lower frequencies to communicate more data.

“The success of JADC2 relies on our ability to have control of the electromagnetic spectrum,” Brig. Gen. AnnMarie Anthony, deputy director for operations for Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations and Mobilization at Strategic Command, told reporters.

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